Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Jellyfish of Micronesia

There is an amazing spectacle that occurs in the islands of Micronesia, northeast of Australia and northwest of the Marshall and Soloman Islands. There are lakes in these islands which are cut off from the ocean, except for small fissures in the rocks in the base of the islands that lead to fresh saltwater. Jellyfish were trapped in these lakes and over the years they have adapted to their environments. They survive in symbiosis with algae, which inhabit their bodies and produce food for them through photosynthesis. Additionally, because they no longer have to compete for food or survive predatory species, they have lost the ability to sting. They are the stingless jellyfish.

Jellyfish are not known for their brainpower, specifically because they have no brain whatsoever. Instead, they have a ganglion of nerve cells that help them to coordinate pulsations and to detect when prey have blundered into their tentacles and that’s about it.

The jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake migrate from one side to the other with the movement of the sun to maximize the amount of time their algae co-inhabitants have to photosynthesize in the sunlight. That’s pretty smart, in my own humble opinion, when they have no brain. They are in their own niche, their own place in their habitat (we are currently studying ecology in class) and have value as a unique and inspirational species. One can swim amongst them in awe of their beauty and grace. (A school of jellyfish is known as a smack).

Now because they have their place and because they are organisms with intrinsic value, what does that say about all living things? Shall we destroy these jellyfish by whatever means we choose because of the fact that they have no brain? (I know, I know, I made a joke about dynamiting jellyfish in my article “Look at the Little Jellyfish;” read on for what I am getting at.) No? Leave the jellyfish alone? Oh, well it would be wrong then, for us to blow all these jellyfish to kingdom come in bits of writhing little pieces, like a mad Al Qaeda ecologist, but its ok for us to kill a human when their brain no longer functions properly, because of their “quality of life.” I am alluding to the case of Terry Schaivo.

There was a movie that came out about 15 years ago that starred Robin Williams called “Awakenings.” In it, a number of people who had brain damage due to encephalitis (infection of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain) were hospitalized at a 24 hour in patient clinic where Williams worked as a doctor. These patients were vegetables. They were responsive to very little. Williams decides (without authorization) to treat these patients with a mega dose of a new drug after initial tests failed. What occurred was remarkable. The patients started waking up from their vegetative state! After “falling asleep” for decades, these patients were laughing, talking, singing and enjoying life again. Regrettably, soon after this occurred the patients began building a tolerance to this drug, and began to fall asleep again, going back into their vegetative state. I shall never forget one scene between Robert DeNiro and Williams. Deniro tells Williams, touchingly, that when he was asleep, he was aware. He was there. He simply did not have the ability to respond.

Here is the deal: when the state starts making decisions for others on their behalf, terminating their existence because of their “quality of life,” a line is drawn. The problem with this is that THE LINE HAS A TENDENCY TO MOVE.
Your brain no longer functions properly. What quality of life is that?
You are over 80 years old. What quality of life is that?
You can no longer function in society. What quality of life is that?
You are an unwanted infant. What quality of life is that?
You are no longer productive. What quality of life is that?
You have the wrong genetic profile. What quality of life is that?

All life has value, and there is a greater line that has been drawn. Shall we embrace truth, or in the “enlightenment” of our philosophy, snuff out the lives of our fellow humans?

In doing so, we destroy ourselves.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Trouble with Dr. Mike Adams

One of the things that I do occasionally is to stroll by the conservative website of townhall.com. Made up of many articles by the countries leading conservative thinkers and radio personalities, it is a bastion of pragmatism. One of the writers I follow is a satirist named Mike Adams, who is a professor of criminal law at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Adams (and I hope he will forgive me for referring to him by using his last name) discusses topics that would often get overlooked by mainstream media, thus my attraction to his writings. He often points out hypocrisy on predominantly liberal college campuses, in politics and society, and is extremely intelligent.

He has an ongoing struggle with the campus administration, whose hand he often bites, with scathing wit, to put it mildly. Here is a link to his archives: http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/MikeSAdams .

As I was reading his latest column today, something troubled me in the back of my mind. It was like an itch I could not scratch. So I began pondering, much as Winnie the Pooh is want to do. I pondered and pondered. (Winnie the Pooh is a bit thinner than I, so I take longer to figure things out.) To summarize, the column was about Adams’ employer making an official statement about Adams’ writings, and his counter claims. The university basically stated that Dr. Adams writings were deplorable and did not express the official view of the university. One would think that given the number of times Adams has lampooned his employer, this statement was to be expected, liberal enclave or not.

Adams was having none of it, though, and picked up the phone to take up his argument with the administration. He was surprised when the person he was speaking with questioned his Christianity. (Perhaps it would have been better phrased, “I question the Christianity of your writings.”) Adams asked the administrator to give him an example, and she could not.

Here is where I step in. Dr. Adams, your writings are not reflective of a walk in Christ for several reasons. The primary one is this: you are always right. You are never, ever wrong. Ever! Pride is a sin. Humility is a virtue. Even Neal Boortz, as annoying as he is, will admit to sometimes being wrong and has even apologized (not satirically) on occasion. Try examining yourself with that rapier wit of yours, and making the results public. Use the words you have used against others on yourself. The results would not be pretty, I would think. “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” I am as guilty of this as you are, Dr. Adams, for I have criticized Michael Vick in a very unfavorable light, in a public forum (my blog). Does he deserve criticism? Yes, but not the way I wrote it, at least some of the things I wrote.

In retrospect, Dr. Adam’s writings remind me somewhat of the young, hurt, angry intellectual who has been let loose to write about the schoolyard bully, or anyone else he happens to disagree with. He simply does not stop. He does not know where to draw the line and say, enough is enough. The put downs, the accusations, the thinly-veiled cutting remarks are not what I would consider to be Christian writing.

Adams’ article continues by stating that the university has complained to him about the time it has to spend answering complaints about his free speech rights. (I am guessing this has to do with what he says in his columns.) Dr. Adams, you would be correct to say that freedom of speech for liberals on many college campuses today is protected, while freedom of speech for conservatives is not. You would be incorrect to say that you are protected by the consequences of your free speech rights; namely, an angry employer.

PS. After searching for other relevant information on the web, I found that CollegeJay expressed my views much better than I. Here is the link to his article:
http://collegejay.blogspot.com/2006/08/thoughts-on-mike-s-adams-aka-live-it.html

Monday, March 26, 2007

Frankenstein Redeux


I am very upset but hardly surprised by an article I read this morning. Dr. Joseph Mengele, also known as “The Angel of Death,” was a Nazi SS officer and chief medical officer at the infirmary at Auschwitz in WWII. He blatantly ignored all ethical considerations with his inhuman eugenic experiments on those imprisoned there. Among his atrocities were attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, amputations, sterilizations and shock treatments. Most who volunteered for his special detail thinking to avoid harsh labor died horrific deaths.

Now there is another doctor who is following his lead, and follows the creed, “if it can be done that is cause enough.” Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent 5 million pounds (7 to 8 million dollars, no doubt made up of grants) and 7 years infusing human cells into sheep fetuses. He now has a sheep that has 15% human cells. The purpose: to make these animals human enough for the purposes of transplantation of organs. Link: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=444436&in_page_id=1770&in_a_source “New Scientists Create Sheep That’s 15% Human”

This research mimics in a reverse sense the macabre horror tale written by Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” where humans were turned into half breed animals, all for the purpose of the worship of the study of science. Only in this case, the nightmare has become a reality. Those who espouse such positions (all science is ethical if it can be used to treat disease or prolong life) such as Michael J. Fox, contend that genetic research of this type could offer the possibility of help for millions. Admittedly, it is easy for one such as myself who does not suffer from Parkinson’s disease to judge. My question to Mr. Fox would be, “At what price sir, do we compromise our humanity in our quest to help others?”

A thought that is troubling to Christians is that we are already killing 1 million people in our country each year, subsidized by our tax dollars. We are making Mengele look like a choirboy. We don’t want to open another Pandora’s box on top of that. We are individually and collectively responsible for the actions that occur in our country. The science of Dr. Moreau, once fiction, has arrived. I am concerned that the lessons of Shelley’s Frankenstein, the monster run amok, are banging on the exit of the lab, while those who run their experiments with tunnel vision seeking fame, prestige and fortune, remain oblivious.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Are You Smart Enough Not To Watch TV?

I did something last night that is strictly verboten (forbidden) in this house. I watched TV. Now I feel as though my intellect has been raped. I am ashamed and embarrassed by my fellow humans. I thought we had hit a new low many years ago with the $1.98 Beauty Pageant. I have been proven wrong. The title of this new show is “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?”

I don’t know where they find these people, but I hope this show is pulled… and fast. Really fast. This show makes me want to sign up with Al Qaeda. Last night they had this ditzy blonde woman who was somehow summoning answers through her dimly lit, sluggishly clogged brain by waving her arms around. No doubt she is from California, the site where the show is taped. (my apologies to Bonnie, Tracy and Christie)

Get this: last night this woman won $100,000 not by being able to SPELL the word “YAK,” but by being able to guess HOW MANY LETTERS WERE IN THE WORD. Not only that, but she took 5 minutes debating the actual answer. This makes professional wrestling look like the Harvard debate team. As an educator, I find this form of reward system particularly contemptible. Are you perennially STUPID? Let’s reward you and perpetuate your genetic line. The contestant lost when she could not guess which continent was also a country. (Australia) I do not have words which are strong enough to express my disgust, contempt and utter revulsion at what I was subjected to last night. Shame on me!

In other news, I wanted to thank my sister, Amy, for her gift last year of my night time sleep aid: Star Trek: The Motion Picture. 5 minutes of this and I am out like a light. It really is that boring. Long, stretching sequences of the Enterprise that do not seem to end…. Background music that consists of a single note striking a penny across an open piano bass string (I am not kidding!)…. Blathering dialog that serves no purpose, does not advance what little plot there is, and contains no conflict… not that we really care by the time we get to that point…. Zzzzzzzzz……

See? I fell asleep while writing that brief summary. It truly is a miracle for modern day science to help those who suffer from insomnia. Having family conflicts? Stress keeping you awake? Don’t bother with Sominex or other chemically derived medications. Get Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Crank of America

The tale you are about to hear is true. The events that unfolded culminated yesterday, and I have since decided to dedicate an article to it. Clark Howard, are you out there? This one is for you.

I have had the same bank account since 1989, when I opened one with the now defunct BankSouth, the best bank I have ever had. BankSouth initiated opening outlets in Kroger stores and keeping tellers and setting hours in the evening so that people could actually speak and interact with bank tellers and managers. This is a novel concept in the age of choosing options through annoying phone machines by pressing buttons. The people they hired were outstanding, customer service wise. It was a situation I was completely happy with.

BankSouth was regrettably bought out by NationsBank and managers were replaced resulting in the loss of many of the people that I had come to know who had helped me over the years. NationsBank was in turn bought out by Bank of America. Keep your seatbelts fastened, it gets better.

A week ago last Saturday my car blew up. Not literally, but the engine began making such a racket that I knew something was terribly wrong. There was an America’s Service Station across the road from the store where I was parked, so I managed to limp over there in my struggling vehicle. They were nice enough to provide a courtesy ride home for me while they checked out my vehicle, a 2000 Ford Escort. When they had finished evaluating it, the news was not good. I had blown a valve or some such thing, and the engine needed to be replaced entirely. The estimate was $3000 or more.

Rather than commit myself to such an expensive repair, I decided to have the transmission in my 1996 Mitsubishi Might Max pickup (which had been languishing in the garage for 2 years) rebuilt, which would cost more on the order of $2000. After checking with Amy, my sister, about my credit rating (thanks, Amy), I proceeded to MAKO Federal Credit Union where I have had a small savings account for 10 years, for a loan.

I received an unsecured loan for $3000, the extra just in case the pickup needed work besides just the transmission. The folks there were great. They approved my loan and even offered to have the monthly payments deducted directly from my paycheck, which I readily agreed to.

I took the cashier’s check they had cut and made payable to myself to Bank of America the next day. It was 2 minutes after 4:00 pm. I had wanted to speak with a manager to make certain these funds would go directly into my account. They told me to go around and make the deposit in to the teller machine. Grrr. I stomped my feet outside the bank and made angry noises, then went around to do my business with the infernal machine. I signed the check, put my account number on it and made the deposit.

I monitored the account on my computer at home. After 2 days I noticed that a hold had been placed on the deposit. What the hell? I called the bank from work to speak with a manager. “Oh yes, well you see Mr. Houtchens, there have been a number of people who have tried to pass counterfeit cashiers checks recently. Yes, one moment, I will clear it up for you. There, your account should reflect your new current balance now.” Checking on the computer, I could see that my new balance reflected the deposit and I was good to go for paying Ron the transmission guy at AAMCO who had bent over backwards to help me get the repairs done at a reasonable cost.

After a week my truck was ready. I swung by the store to check on my balance. Much to my astonishment, my balance had been deducted by $3000, and I now did not have the money to pay Ron for his work. I was in disbelief. I swung by the bank. “Sorry, we are closed,” I was told at the drive through window. I then drove to the one location where Bank of America still has a branch in a supermarket in the vicinity.

After speaking with the manager there, they dug up my files and informed me that the department that is in charge of making deposits had once again placed a hold on the cashiers check, and the code that was coming up marked it as counterfeit. I could hardly contain my astonishment. I had walked out of MAKO with the loan check in my hands. They gave me a customer service number to call. I asked for hard copies of all information they had pertaining to this matter, which they provided.

When I called the customer service number, the woman I spoke with listened attentively, then connected me to a customer service supervisor, a Mr. Lavartine Smith. Mr. Smith was also very personable, but not very helpful. He informed me that the check had been refused, and had been returned to me by way of snail mail. I asked him if they had even bothered to present the check to MAKO, and he could not even tell me that it had. I asked him to inform his superiors of this matter.

Here is the deal. This situation is causing me unprecedented and unnecessary stress. I can tell my blood pressure is up because my ears are burning even as I write this. My doctor has informed me that I have heart related issues, and has sent me to see a cardiologist. People who have had the same account for 17 years should not be given the service that I have received.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Look at the Little Jellyfish!


This story illustrates the fact that my father and I are definitely related. (see my previous story, “Look at the Cute Little Cactus!”) It occurred one of those summers long ago when our family owned a timeshare apartment in Hilton Head. I was not present for this event, but received this story from my sister and also from dad, and relate it to the best of my recollection.

Dad had gone to the beach with my sister for some fun in the ocean. As he was wading about in the waters getting sprayed by ocean waves, he noticed a small jellyfish floating in the water 10 to 15 feet away.

“Look at da liddle jeddyfish!” he exclaimed in a high voice, his tone going up high then coming back down. I can imagine him pointing at it and being proud of his oceanic find. The Jaques Cousteau of Hilton Head Island had discovered this fascinating new creature with only 15 minutes of experience.

Dad waded over to this small sea creature to more accurately observe its undulating bell as it struggled vainly against the mighty current of the sea. It was near the surface of the water and was blindly riding the waves towards its eventual destination on the sand of the beach. What dad did not see were the hundreds of other jellyfish that were deeper underwater that surrounded this lone individual. (A school of jellyfish is known as a smack.)

It was a painful experience, I am told. What makes it worse is that the tentacles of these creatures tend to stick to your skin. When one moves, it naturally pulls all the other tentacles into contact. I understand they used Adolf’s meat tenderizer to treat the stings, but as so much time has passed, and as I was not present, the specific events are not as clear as they once were.

The moral of the story is: The best defense is a good offense. Several sticks of dynamite with waterproof fuses would have made the water safe for collection and examination of sea creatures using mesh netting and approved safety equipment.

G.Houtchens
humanitarian
environmental ecologist
marine ethicist

Friday, March 16, 2007

Spider-Man and Kentucky Fried Chicken

As we go through life, we all deal with issues. Character issues, money issues, relationship issues, etc. Issues within ourselves and those that involve others. We deal with these issues in different ways, usually by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure, in differing degrees.

That being said, I believe we are basically all in the same boat, in this manner. What happens though is that we need to be tested to sharpen our will. We need to rise to challenges that greet us. It does little good to sharpen a sword on a wooden dowel, yet that is what I have found I have done for most of my life, in embracing pleasure and avoiding pain. My current challenge is to live a healthier lifestyle, by exercising, eating a bit more properly (meaning, no more school lunches!) eating *less*, and doing what I need to do, instead of just what I want to do. I find that my physical issues seem to parallel my spiritual ones. One cannot gorge themselves on Kentucky Fried Chicken all day each day, avoiding the simplest physical tasks and expect to stay healthy. The same is true in a spiritual sense. (It has been a long while since I have had KFC, I use this example to make a point.)

We need to make a difference in the lives of those around us, not in enforcing our dogma upon them, but in forgiveness, love and acceptance, regardless of where they are in life. “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Accept those who are unacceptable, without approving of destructive behaviors. Befriend those who are friendless. Love those who are unloved. Help those who are helpless. This can be done right where we are, each and every day, by direct action and through prayer. (I realize this is a misleading statement, as prayer is strong and effectual action, but I state this as a contrast.)

There is truth. There is a moral standard for our lives. His name is Holy. And HE *desires* communion with us. With Him, all things are possible.

I was at the cardiologist’s office yesterday for a full battery of tests, per orders from my GP (my physician). They injected me with all kinds of radioactive goop (I have been known to climb the wall at work, but that is out of a sense of frustration, rather than having the powers of Spider-Man.) They took pictures of my heart before and after exercise. They also took ultrasound pictures of my heart going lub-dub.

While I was in the waiting room between tests, I was talking with a gentleman in his mid sixties, whom I shall call Mr. Goldberg. He had medium length over the collar black hair which had just started to thin. He also had a thin lower moustache, the kind that Clark Gable used to sport, an interesting contrast. He spoke with a New York accent. He told me of the numerous operations he had undergone. He had stents implanted, (these are somewhat like the little springs found in retractable pens that are used to keep arteries open) then a quadruple bypass, then more stents. I asked him about his life and he began to tell me such wonderful stories. Living on a farm in Maine and rebuilding a house from the 1800’s. Building a log cabin using nothing more than a 4 inch hatchet. I was amazed at what Mr. Goldberg had accomplished. These are things that I can only dream of. When I expressed wonder at the life he had lived, he pooh-poohed me, seeing only his failures and disappointments. I considered this, how our view of ourselves is so often colored by our experience. It made me wonder at how God sees us, truthfully.

I believe that God was with me in that office, yesterday. You see, I was not cursed, having to undergo all these tests, being poked, prodded, and injected. I was blessed, because now, I have someone new to pray for. Sometimes, it’s all just a matter of perspective.

Monday, March 12, 2007

This Old Spouse

I got into a quasi pseudo argument with one of my students before class today. She was stating that the program “Ultimate Home Makeover” was a good thing and how she cried and cried when a family that she knew of received not only a new house but also had their mortgage paid off. I took the position that this show was *not* in the business of helping people out, as they project, but rather to make money off of advertising revenues. I stated that they tug on people’s heartstrings in a deliberate attempt at manipulation. Furthermore, these people have to pay taxes on all monies and construction work received that exceeds $10,000. I have heard of some folks who had to sell their new “dream house” because they could not afford the taxes. Naturally, all the little girls jumped to their friends’ defense, ignoring the Vulcanian logic I was using. We were all smiling as we argued- it was a friendly thing. They were all using the expletive, “Mr. Houtchens!!!!!!!!” every time I said something that ruffled their feathers.

Now I have to admit, I had a rather callous attitude, having never seen the show myself. (I leave watching TV to those whose intelligence is apt to make a good fit.) However, I despise manipulation in all forms (except, of course, when I am doing the manipulating; for example, to get a student to behave.) Well, today after school I started thinking. What if I hosted a reality TV show where marital problems were solved with power tools?

THIS OLD SPOUSE
[country music into]

With your host, Glennie Bob Houtchens!

Welcome to This Old Spouse. Today, we are visiting the Samples family. Billy Joe, I understand you are having a problem with your spouse.

Samples: Yessiree, I am ! She spends WAY too much money on junk. Fancy new clothes; expensive, restaurant-type foods; crappie little knick knacks that are overpriced…. By the time I get to the checking account, I don’t even have enough money to buy worms to go fishin’!

Glennie Bob: That is a problem… and I have just the solution! Lets start with all these porcelain dolls here sittin’ on the mantelpiece. Ya just rip out your handy portable Binco 2100 rotary saw and…VEEERRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!

[Glass and shredded doll clothing goes flying everywhere. A woman, evidently Mrs. Samples, is shrieking behind the noise of the saw, running around in circles in and out of frame.]

Glennie Bob: Now for the food we have to have some special equipment. This here is the Binco 9300 500 Horsepower Mega Kill Log Splitter! We’ll just mosey up here to the refrigerator. All set? FIRE IN THE HOLE !!!!!!!!!!

[WHAM! The refrigerator is reduced in a split second to so much scrap metal, or, in the case of this family, a new lawn ornament]

[Billie Joe has a smile spread from ear to ear; a look of great contentment and satisfaction is on his face]

Glennie Bob: Now for the wardrobe, what ya need is the Binco 3400 Diesel Powered Sandblaster! Let’s crank her up! VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV!!!!!!!

[In seconds the wardrobe is reduced to tatters and shreds.]

Samples: Thank you, Glennie Bob!

Glennie Bob: This will show your spouse that you are not a pansyfied, yogurt sucking, tofu nibbling wimp! Until next time, this is Glennie Bob Houtchens, for This Old Spouse.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Look at the Cute Little Cactus!


About 15 years ago, when I was visiting my father and his wife at their Norcross address, I happened upon a prickly pear cactus that was growing in his yard. (We are currently finishing up our plants unit in school.) I exclaimed, "Look at the cute little cactus!" It had extremely small spines, which resembled a type of fur. Now this one leaf had fallen off, and feeling sorry for it, I picked it up. Dad said to me, "I wouldn't do that, Glenn." Ignoring his senile, demented and obviously insensitive advice, I began to pet it. "Poor little cactus fell off the bush. Awww!" Again, Dad had to interject with his unwanted and unsolicited advice. "I wouldn't do that, Glenn."

I stated the obvious to the oblivious when I told him, "I am not getting pricked. See? I am petting it with the grain. Dad just shook his head. Well, a little while went by and I put the cactus, which was doomed to die because it was seperated from it's stem, back where I had found it and joined my family inside the house. After a while, my hands began to itch. How odd, I thought. Then I looked down at my hands.

Millions of tiny, almost microscopic cactus spines had embedded themselves all over my hands. In the creases between my fingers, everywhere. "What's the matter, Glenn?" dad asked.

"Ummm.... do you have a pair of tweezers?" I asked. It was then that this evil parental smile spread across his face.

"Oh, you got stuck??? Noooo!!!!!" He could barely contain himself from expressing such glee at being right. My pain meant nothing whatsoever. He had asserted his wisdom (intelligence), I had asserted my folly (idiocy), and we both knew it. I could do nothing but wait upon his benevolence as only he knew where the God forsaken tweezers were in that house.

The moral of the story is, listen to your parents. They know better!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Bill and Ted's Excellent UFO Video



I was perusing UFOCasebook.com, and I happened upon this video that demonstrates why it is so difficult to accept more questionable, validatable occurances. In it, the two men who are photographing lights over Lake Erie are heard to express themselves with the following intellectually stimulating conversation:
"Whoooahhh, duuuude!"
"Maaan!"
"Whoooaahh!"
"Check out those lights, duuude!"
"Yeah! Whoah, man, here comes another one!"
"Whoooaaahhh!"
"It's like, a mothership, duuude!"
"Maaaan!"
"They are like, meeting!"
"Whoooaaahhh"
"Duude, this isn't even right."
"Duude, I got this on tape!"

In any event, here is the link so you can see it for yourself... dude.
http://www.ufocasebook.com/eastlakeman.html

The Pudding Story

Introduction
This event actually occured in college.The year is 1981, Maryville College, Tennessee. I am a linebacker for the football team, and as such, one of the perks is being able to sit at the "training table," where atheletes are indulged with as many extra helpings of whatever sumptuous delectable they desire. As all the atheletes are gathered together, and as we sometimes get bored with each other, there at times occurs a restlessness, a collective desire to do mischeif, and we, the long armed, well muscled, mature, handsome, upstanding young men degenerate into brutish, hulking, mindless, drooling, immature idiots looking for a place to happen.

Enter the Pudding
One particular summer afternoon the menu called for beef stroganoff and one of the desserts was pudding with a dollop of whipped cream on top. It was served in a small side dish, the kind one usually gets iced cream in. There were a number of these dishes at the end of the serving line, not being terribly well attended as they were not too popular. We were all sitting around mulling over what we were going to do, when one of our linemen whose name escapes me went over and brought back a dish of butterscotch pudding. He endured several scathing comments about what the pudding might look like during late afternoon practice after being eaten, and said "just watch."

The Operation
Using a flat bottomed knife, he removed the dollop of whipped cream with the precision of a skilled surgeon and placed it on the side. Using a spoon, he scooped out a portion of the butterscotch pudding forming a hole in the wiggly tan glob. Into this hole he placed a spoonful of beef stroganoff followed by a liberal amount of yellow mustard. One by one our faces lit up, and realizing what this meant, grins spread evilly across our young faces in infantile glee. Carefully, he placed the dollop of whipped cream on top and smoothed it back over.

The Bait
He strolled back to the serving line nonchalantly with the carefully doctored "surprize" and placed it amongst the others, then came back to our table without being detected. We waited in anticipation. Students went through the lunch line ignoring our little treat... until.... There was one girl getting her lunch- a very pretty but rigid and studious young thing who showed an interest in the desserts. She was perfect. Her hair was perfect. Her makeup was perfect. Her clothes were perfect. She was perfectly composed and had a perfect demeanor. She was "Miss Priss" to a tee. Guess which dessert she chose.

Anticipation
We waited for her to finish her meal, stealing glances at her and trying hard not to smile, laugh or look suspicious. She pulled the pudding closer as she babbled with her girlfreind. Slowly, she pulled a spoonful of the concoction towards her mouth, then waited while she finished a reply. She placed the pudding into her mouth as her face squinted and wrinkled in revulsion. "Bwahahahahaha!" we all burst out laughing as she brought a napkin to her mouth and gave us a dirty look. To me, it was one of those times that makes college a memorable experience.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

If I Were President

If I were president, these would be my first words to Congress: You are all full of crap. This is the message from the American people carried by me. The reason an independent was elected and both parties were snubbed is because this is the message I was elected to bring to you.

I plan as my first official act as President of the United States to abolish the federal Department of Education by executive order. Any funds that were to go to this agency will go instead to paying down the national debt. Furthermore, I am calling on Congress to abolish the IRS by passing the Fair Tax bill, which I will sign. This will ensure that all persons who are in our country, citizen or not, will pay an equal percentage of taxes; no filing required. It will also insure social security for many years to come.

I will veto any bill which comes before my desk with earmarks. Bills need to contain laws that are of need to our country, not petty, personal public works projects acquired from money which has been stolen from American citizens before they could even collect their paychecks.

All foreign aid will cease until the national debt has been paid, barring international disasters.

I will sign any bill which limits the amounts of personal injury lawsuits. It’s time these vampires of the insurance industry do honest work, instead of hurting our economy at the expense of us all.

I will sign any bill which affirms the rights of citizens by identification of DNA analysis. This will hopefully bring to an end the genocide of over one million Americans each year. If you desire the “choice” of infanticide, that choice will still be available… in Canada.

All borders on this nation which are not monitored by checkpoints are closed. If the Mexican president cannot handle the problem with drug smuggling across the southern border, then I will handle it for him. If any law enforcement officer is required to use lethal force to protect themselves and our country from those who are found smuggling drugs across our border, they will receive a presidential pardon from me that same day. All persons found on the border not belonging there will be arrested, according to the law.

I have thought long on matters in Iraq; matters I have inherited from my predecessor. The bottom line is we have no business there and never had, regardless of intentions. We are not the police force of the world, nor will we be involved in "nation building," importing our form of government to foreign nations much as the Soviet Union did in the 50's and 60's of the last century. To the people of Iraq, in the name of the office of the President of the United States, I issue an apology. I have been in touch with the prince of Saudi Arabia, the president of Turkey and the president of Syria. The country of Iraq will be divided into zones, with armies from each of these countries occupying and securing these areas. Iran will have no part of this matter and its border will be kept secure until such time as our forces can depart.

Although we are not the police force of the world, that does not mean I don’t believe in a strong military, able to respond to world crises as need be. To that end, by presidential order, I am reinstating a limited draft for homeland security purposes only. This will free up troops who will be able to respond for prolonged deployments while keeping homeland security strong.

Furthermore, as you may have heard, earlier this week I accompanied the 82nd Airborne Rangers and the 54th Engineer Battalion when we relieved soldiers of duty from Area 51 and Area S-4 in the Nevada desert. While this was occurring, Vice President Gray accompanied the 101st Airborne Rangers and the 205th Engineer Battalion with similar orders in Alice Springs, Australia. The commanding officers of those bases and their immediate subordinates were unwilling to follow orders from their commander in chief. There were casualties in the conflagration. Those who survived face trial by court martial on the charge of treason under the Universal Code of Military Justice. After securing the areas we performed thorough searches. The results of these searches will be revealed fully, when I hold my first press conference to speak to the people of America, and the world, one week from today.

Friday, March 2, 2007

An Inconvenient Gore

Okaayyy. The wheels are turning this morning, folks. My topic of the day is regarding what are called “offsets.” This idea is promoted as a defense by Al Gore for his lavish energy use. Basically, it goes like this: let’s say you use X amount of kilowatt hours of electricity over and above what you should be using to keep greenhouse emissions from causing the Earth to overheat. In order to make up for this, you could plant trees, use solar power, or pay “offsets” to a fund that pays others NOT to use electricity. The people who do not use electricity are those who do not have access to it; namely, those in 3rd world countries. Perhaps you own a company that spews toxic wastes into the Etowah River. You pay a certain amount of money that goes into a fund to say, clean up dumpsites. Or pick up trash on the sides of the highways. It’s an interesting idea. I will not go into the whole global warming is occurring/is not occurring debate at this time. Here is the link for more information on offsets: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/LorieByrd/2007/03/01/aqua_nets_offsets_for_all!

This brings to my mind two ideas. The first is that this use of terminology is spankingly like the Scientologists’ use of terminology. It lends acceptability because the word is used in a new context. It’s not a sin, it’s an overt. It’s not a spirit, it’s a thetan. Scientology is a cult. So, why not just call an offset what it is? A payoff. A TAX. A tax on pollution that is involuntary. Oooo, we can’t do that… people would not accept it. Thank you, you have just proven my point. Well, taxes on pollution are not bad, when it comes to the preservation of the planet. This goes back to my idea of government being our surrogate for remembering the poor. We are the ones who are individually responsible for helping those in need. Robin Hood, as idealistic as it is, is not a standard for government. That’s called communism.

Secondly and more importantly, offsets bring to my mind the idea of writs of indulgences. If you pay a certain amount, the priest would “pray” for your sin, or the sin of a deceased one, and this prayer is somehow more effective than your sinful prayer. Here we are in the 21st century, and everything old is new again. You can pay an offset to have your liberal mind cleansed of the sin of polluting mother earth. Why stop there? Let’s pay a tax for the sin of offending minorities, whether we have participated or not. (We are doing this already- it’s called affirmative action) Let’s pay a tax for the eradication of any public display of religion. Some atheists might have been offended. Let’s pay a tax to (_____ fill in the blank_____).

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a good thing to save energy, to use solar power, to conserve natural resources. I don’t think it is good to make this ideology one’s religion.

By the way, did you know that the British government is making An Inconvenient Truth required viewing for every student in the country?

For those interested in the global warming debate, I refer you to this site:
http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/
Getting information from more than one source is a good thing.